Open Primaries SD Ends Delay, Now Petitioning to “Let All Voters Vote!”

Joe Kirby, De Knudson, Chuck Parkinson, and friends are finally circulating their initiative petition to create open primaries in South Dakota. They got the Attorney General’s explanation on July 11, but then spent over a month considering a second, slightly more verbose version of their proposed constitutional amendment. Fortunately, they withdrew #2 on August 22 and now are on the streets collecting signatures for the simpler initiative, which puts all candidates on one primary ballot, lets everyone vote on that single primary ballot, and makes the general election a runoff between the top two primary finishers.

Open Primaries South Dakota (may we call them Team O-P?) sends out a press release to claim and amp up enthusiasm for their election reform:

Committee Treasurer De Knudson said, “I personally have found over eighty volunteers around the state willing to pass petitions. We should have little difficulty in reaching our target number of signatures.”

Committee Chairman Joe Kirby said, “Open primaries are all about fairness. Every South Dakota voter has an equal right to participate in publicly funded elections. No one, including the two political parties, should be able to infringe on that right.” He went on to say, “The closed party primaries we currently have in South Dakota encourage and reward partisanship, something we have way too much of in politics these days.”

West river team member Chuck Parkinson said, “The concept of open primaries is very popular here in the Rapid City area. Our job is simply to give folks the opportunity to sign these petitions. Our slogan is effective” [Open Primaries South Dakota, press release, 2017.09.11].

Slogan? Oh yeah: “Open primaries let all voters vote!” That slogan is on the press release; it’s also on the information sheet on the back of every AG explanation/sponsor contact/circulator-pay document that state law compels petitioners to hand out:

Open Primaries fact sheet, approved by SOS Krebs 2017.08.23.
Open Primaries fact sheet, approved by SOS Krebs 2017.08.23.

Future petitioners, take note: you do not have to get the Secretary of State’s approval for a fact sheet like this or for any other campaign literature you may wish to hand out while circulating your petition. The only thing the Secretary has to see and stamp before you hit the sidewalks is the AG/sponsor/circulator form. Now if you do as Team O-P has done and place your info sheet on the back of the AG/S/C form, then yes, technically, the Secretary needs to see that form. But you can print and distribute separately all the documents you want.

Team O-P invites folks who’d like to join their dozens-strong band of circulators to call De Knudson at (605) 310-4367.